–submitted by Larry Larrabee; photo by Valerie Johnson
At the April 19th meeting, our fellow Rotarian, Moses Altsech, encouraged us to remember the Holocaust and to apply its lessons to our world today. Today’s presentation follows on his 2007 Rotary presentation on the same subject.
He began his presentation by relating the story of his grandparents living in the large Jewish community in Salonika in eastern Greece at the onset of the Nazi invasion and took us through their encounter with homelessness, deportation and for many, death in concentration camps. He told of the homelessness and relocation his parents and some grandparents experienced after WWII.
Moses reminded us that today we, our community and civilization, continue to suffer from prejudices against others for their religion, ethnicity or social behaviors. He said of prejudice, ”If we are to throw the first stone against prejudice, we need to aim it at a mirror.” We may not raise children to be prejudiced, but we raise them to be bystanders and this is wrong.
He made an impassioned plea for modern social justice and how critical it is for all of us to take action against injustices, not just sit on our hands. Moses encouraged parents to tell their children about their family history because family stories tell them who they are and what they can aspire to become. He reminded us of how we prefer to forget the past and with it, the lessons for today.
At the conclusion of the presentation, our speaker was given a standing ovation.
If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.